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Swoonworthy Romance in YA Fantasy

(that ISN'T enemies-to-lovers)

Some days it seems we’re drowning in enemies-to-lovers romance plots (and we’re mostly okay with that!), but we decided to set sail for less crowded waters this week and seek out swoonworthy romances that AREN’T enemies-to-lovers.

What makes a romance swoonworthy? Ask a hundred readers, get a hundred different answers. We all like different things in our romantic heroes and heroines. Yet so many of us claim the same book boyfriends and girlfriends. What makes them so desirable?

In an effort to find out, let's peruse a wider variety of romance tropes and some of the books that use them.


It’s no wonder this is at the top of the list. The warm fuzzies from seeing two people who already care for and love each other actually fall IN love with each other is the cozy blanket to our comfy reading nook.


Nothing makes you want something like not being able to have it. Watching two characters resist that temptation (or give in to it) knowing they can’t be together, is delicious. And the disastrous results if they’re caught . . . Pass the popcorn please.


It’s the ultimate “one who got away” scenario. Maybe they were too young, they lost touch, the timing was off, one of them was an immature unworthy jerk who had some growing up to do . . . you know how it is! But this is the chance to rekindle the flames, find each other again, and build the fire right.


This might seem similar to the forbidden love trope, but this time the consequences of exposure are more personal. Maybe it’s a case of “best friend’s brother” or a situation where one will be in danger if the relationship gets out. Either way, stealing kisses in the shadows and brushing hands when no one’s looking is the thrill of tasting the icing before the cake is served.


Ah, the time you fell for someone just because they were there. Just kidding. The swoon factor comes into this trope when they each soften for each other, help each other, or begin to do things just to make the other one happy. Whether they're the only ones around, or the only ones they can each rely on, when they finally tumble together, we wonder how they ever existed apart.


Our lovely characters have no say in the matter of who to marry, but that doesn’t mean they’ll love the person. Until it turns out they DO and it’s the sweetest, most beautiful thing, and we all just end up crying and cheering and mopping up tears with Cheetos. Just me?


This often gets a bad rep, and it’s not always deserved. Whether it’s a play on fated mates, or a destiny story, or just true love at first sight (fairy tale style), there can be something simple and pure about a character who knows what they want when they see it. And if it’s one sided at first . . . well, light the fire and start the kettle. We’re going to be here until this works out.


This article was written by Jo Holloway

Jo Holloway is a YA Fantasy author, writing characters and creatures who defy expectations and twist your view on the world around you. If you want to find out what magical things are hiding out around you, visit and see what secret world you might be missing.

The Immortal Voices contains a completed 5-book contemporary fantasy series plus a standalone historical fantasy. Her current project, The Cursed Globe, includes retellings that will tangle Shakespearean classics with familiar Fairy Tales.

Follow the author on BookBub or Goodreads for news on new releases.

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